Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Tag__featured

online-education-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Online education concept

How Stephen Wolfram Revolutionized Math Computing

Wolfram has not made computers creative but he certainly took a lot of the drudgery out of the profession

In last week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things mathematical, including why math or engineering geniuses (Elon Musk came to mind, of course) can’t just follow the rules. This week, we look at Stephen Wolfram’s new program that checks your hard math. What can — and can’t — it do for mathematicians? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 13:22 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: Now, there is what I regard as a piece of AI, so it might be interesting to talk about it. My friend Stephen Wolfram (pictured), the system he’s created,…

eye-close-up-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Eye close up

What if only part — not all — of your brain were transplanted?

You might end up seeing double out of an eye a thousand miles away

Recently, we’ve been discussing the concept of total or partial human brain transplants. What about transplanting an eye and the parts of the visual cortex it needs from one person to another? Which of the two people would be seeing out of that eye? The answer is not simple. As noted earlier, researchers may never succeed in transplanting both an eye and the hemisphere brain parts that the eye needs to function from one human being to another. But let’s assume a science fiction scenario — a thought experiment — in which there is an exchange. Jack gets Mary’s right eye/hemisphere and Mary gets Jack’s right eye/hemisphere. Both parties, who live on different parts of the planet, survive. For simplicity,…

spacex-concept-spacecraft-in-orbit-of-the-earth-spacex-elon-musk-mars-programm-3d-render-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
SpaceX Concept Spacecraft in orbit of the Earth. SpaceX Elon Musk Mars programm 3d render

Why Elon Musk and Other Geniuses Can’t Afford To Follow Rules

Mathematician Gregory Chaitin explains why Elon Musk is, perhaps unexpectedly, his hero

In last week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things mathematical, including why great books on math, advancing new theorems, aren’t written much any more. This week, we look at why geniuses like Musk (whose proposed Mars Orbiter is our featured image above) simply can’t just follow the rules, for better or worse: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 7:57 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: Look at Elon Musk (pictured). He’s my great hero. He’s a wonderful engineer and he’s a wonderful entrepreneur and he doesn’t follow the rules. Robert J. Marks: He doesn’t,…

black-mathematics-board-with-formulas-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
black mathematics board with formulas

Why Don’t We See Many Great Books on Math Any More?

Decades ago, Gregory Chaitin reminds us, mathematicians were not forced by the rules of the academic establishment to keep producing papers, so they could write key books.

In our most recent podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things mathematical, including whether math is invented or discovered. This time out, Chaitin talks about why he thinks great books on math, advancing new theorems, aren’t written much any more: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 02:49 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: You don’t hear the word “scholarship” very much anymore in academia. Gregory Chaitin: And people don’t write books. In the past, some wonderful mathematicians like G. H. Hardy (1877–1947, pictured in 1927) would write wonderful books like A Mathematician’s Apology (1940)…

red-and-blue-spiral-fractal-background-image-illustration-vortex-repeating-spiral-pattern-symmetrical-repeating-geometric-patterns-abstract-background-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Red and Blue Spiral Fractal Background Image, Illustration - Vortex repeating spiral pattern, Symmetrical repeating geometric patterns. Abstract background

Mathematics: Did We Invent It Or Did We Merely Discover It?

What does it say about our universe if the deeper mathematics has always been there for us to find, if we can?

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin (pictured) on how math presents us with a challenging philosophical question: Does math image deep truth about our universe? Or do we just make up these math rules in our own minds to help us understand nature? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 00:39 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: Deep philosophical questions have many answers, sometimes contradictory answers even, that different people believe in. Some mathematics, I think, is definitely invented, not discovered. That tends to be trivial mathematics — papers that fill in much-needed gaps because…

a-man-using-digital-tablet-with-building-hologram-and-internet-media-icons-smart-city-5g-internet-and-networking-technology-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
a man using digital tablet with building hologram and internet media icons. Smart city, 5g, internet and networking technology concept

Nevada Announces New Cities in State To Be Run By Big Tech

The zones promise technological freedom, but what are the dangers to handing so much political power to big corporations?

Nevada is courting technological business by offering them the opportunity to develop cities independent of government regulation. In his State of the State address on January 19th, Nevada Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak announced proposed legislation to create “Innovation Zones” in order “to jumpstart the state’s economy by attracting technology firms.” The long-term vision for these Innovation Zones is a county independent of local government, run solely by a technological corporation for the purpose of pursuing advanced technology without the red tape of bureaucracy. The proposed legislation draft calls “traditional forms of local government” “inadequate” in their ability “to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses…”…

spiral-background-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Spiral Background.

Hard Math Can Be Entertaining — With the Right Musical Score!

Gregory Chaitin discusses with Robert J. Marks the fun side of solving hard math problems, some of which come with million-dollar prizes

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on his method of describing true randomness:. If no theory is simpler than the data you are trying to explain, then the data is random. They also discussed the work of true randomness but also on how Ray Solomonoff (1926–2009), another algorithmic information theory founder, who pursued the “shortest effective string of information that describes an object.” But now, for a lighter touch, we learn that a musical comedy was made of Fermat’s Last Theorem. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 19:24 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: If you…

the-first-model-of-the-computational-mechanism-is-an-arithmometer-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
The first model of the computational mechanism is an arithmometer.

Computers Are Getting Faster But Are They Getting Smarter? No.

Computers are Turing machines, limited to operations that can be completely understood in relation to their programming

Won’t quantum computers be smarter than regular ones? No. Still No. What about optical computing, computing with DNA, or some other exotic form of computation? Always No. A skeptical reader might ask, Why such a definitive answer? How do you deal with the spectacular performance of deep learning? What about AlphaGo Zero? What about Watson? What about the infamous Deep Blue? What about quantum supremacy? Don’t these examples all disprove your point? No. All forms of computation past, present, and future will be physical. And all physical phenomena can be modeled by a Turing machine (pictured). No matter how fast the computer runs, the computer will never be more powerful than a Turing machine. A Turing machine consists of five…

real-php-code-developing-screen-programing-workflow-abstract-algorithm-concept-lines-of-php-code-visible-under-magnifying-lens-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Real Php code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Php code visible under magnifying lens.

How did Ray Solomonoff Kickstart Algorithmic Information Theory?

He started off the long pursuit of the shortest effective string of information that describes an object

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on how best to describe true randomness but also on what he recalls of Ray Solomonoff (1926–2009), described in his obit as the “Founding Father of algorithmic information theory.” https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 10:30 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin (pictured): Ray Solomonoff was interested in prediction but I was more interested in looking at a given string of bits and asking, does it have structure or not, and the incompleteness results regarding this question. For example, most strings of bits have no structure, according to this definition. They…

human head diagramatic.jpg
Anatomy human body model. Part of human body model with organ system.

Are Human Brain Transplants Even Possible?

What would be the outcome if one person received transplants from the brains of others? If it’s not possible, there may be a good reason why not

Earlier this week, I discussed the work of Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon in the mid-20th century who did extensive research on head transplants in animals. The operation sometimes worked, most notably in monkeys. But it has never been done in humans, mostly because head transplantation would mean cutting the spinal cord, which would cause complete and permanent paralysis. The most reasonable perspective on the soul is that it is the active principle of the body — that is, the soul is what the body does. Thus soul follows function. From this perspective, I infer that after a head transplant, I would see with my original eyes, hear with my original ears, etc. If I were able to move my…

infinite-random-numbers-original-3d-rendering-background-technology-and-science-concepts-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Infinite random numbers, original 3d rendering background, technology and science concepts

Chaitin’s Discovery of a Way of Describing True Randomness

He found that concepts from computer programming worked well because, if the data is not random, the program should be smaller than the data

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on randomness. It’s a subject on which Chaitin has thought deeply since his teenage years (!), when he published a journal paper on the subject. How do we measure randomness? Chaitin begins by reflecting on his 1969 paper: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 1:12 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: In particular, my paper looks at the size of computer programs in bits. More technically you ask, what is the size in bits of the smallest computer program you need to calculate a given digital object? That’s called the program…

denim-jean-production-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
denim jean production

In China, Forced Uyghur Labor Produces Many Fashionable Products

Industries such as fashion and solar panels rely heavily on supplies from detention centers and concentration camps in China

China has been called the “world’s factory.” American companies like Apple, may assemble their tech in the U.S., but the parts are made elsewhere, including Xinjiang, China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Industries such as fashion and solar panels also rely heavily on Xinjiang for their supply lines. Reports from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S., as well as testimonials from Uyghurs, show that many such factories in Xinjiang involve the forced labor of Uyghurs in what are called “vocational training schools.” These vocational training schools are more appropriately described as detention centers. In many cases, they are essentially concentration camps. Many Uyghurs are also sent from Xinjiang to other…

electrocardiogram-in-hospital-surgery-operating-emergency-room-showing-patient-heart-rate-with-blur-team-of-surgeons-background-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Electrocardiogram in hospital surgery operating emergency room showing patient heart rate with blur team of surgeons background

Are Head Transplants Soul Transplants?

Specifically, if your head were transplanted, would your soul go with it?

Wired offers a fascinating article about Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon in the mid-20th century who was famous for his extensive research on head transplants. He transplanted heads of various animals, often unsuccessfully (many animals died) but with some success, particularly with monkeys. The medical, ethical, and sociological issues are interesting in themselves, but I’ll focus here on the metaphysical issues. Specifically, if your head is transplanted, does your soul go with it? First, it worth noting that head transplantation is difficult surgery but doable. We know how to sew blood vessels together, how to fuse spinal bones, how to attach tracheas and muscles and peripheral nerves. Transplantation of an entire head (or an entire body, depending on your perspective)…

5g-network-internet-mobile-wireless-business-concept5g-standard-of-modern-signal-transmission-technology-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
5G Network Internet Mobile Wireless Business concept.5G standard of modern signal transmission technology.

How 5G Is Shaped By Narrative and Myth

Our perspective powerfully influences how we see things

We all use narratives and sometimes myths to organize our thinking. According to WikiDiff, … the difference between narrative and myth is that narrative is the systematic recitation of an event or series of events while myth is a traditional story which embodies a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon… It is important to be aware and careful of the narratives we use. It is even more important to be reflective of the myths we follow. Myths, with their attendant belief systems, have a greater impact on our perceptions and actions than narratives. The stories we use to frame our understanding of the facts about a topic highlight some areas but blind us to others. We should think about topics…

white-grey-and-pink-mandelbrot-fractal-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
White, grey and pink mandelbrot fractal.

How Kurt Gödel Destroyed a Popular Form of Atheism

We don’t hear much about logical positivism now but it was very fashionable in the early twentieth century

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin interview I: Chaitin chats with Kurt Gödel,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin. Earlier, we noted his comments on the almost supernatural awareness that the great mathematicians had of the foundations of reality in the mathematics of our universe. Yesterday, we heard Chaitin’s recollection of how he (almost) met the eccentric genius Kurt Gödel (1906–1978). One way that Gödel stood out from many of his contemporaries was that he believed in God. He even wrote a mathematical proof of the existence of God. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-124-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 17:16 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: One of the things…

mandelbrot-set-abstract-mathematics-computer-generated-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
mandelbrot set abstract mathematics computer generated

Gregory Chaitin’s “Almost” Meeting With Kurt Gödel

This hard-to-find anecdote gives some sense of the encouraging but eccentric math genius

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin interview I: Chaitin chats with Kurt Gödel,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin. Yesterday, we noted his comments on the almost supernatural awareness that the great mathematicians had of the foundations of reality in the mathematics of our universe. This time out, Chaitin recounts how he (almost) met the eccentric genius Kurt Gödel (1906–1978): https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-124-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 12:42 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: You mentioned that you read the article about Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in Scientific American I also know that you had a near brush with Gödel and I’ve heard the story from you. But…

silhouette-of-human-with-universe-and-physical-mathematical-formulas-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Silhouette of human with universe and physical, mathematical formulas

Gregory Chaitin on the Great Mathematicians, East and West

Himself a “game-changer” in mathematics, Chaitin muses on what made the great thinkers stand out

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin interview I: Chaitin chats with Kurt Gödel,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on the almost supernatural awareness that the great mathematicians had of the foundations of reality in the mathematics of our universe: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-124-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This discussion begins at 8:26 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: There are few people who can be credited without any controversy with the founding of a game changing field of mathematics. We are really fortunate today to talk to Gregory Chaitin (pictured) who has that distinction. Professor Chaitin is a co-founder of the Field of Algorithmic Information Theory that explores the properties of…

robotic-man-cyborg-face-representing-artificial-intelligence-3d-rendering-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Robotic man cyborg face representing artificial intelligence 3D rendering

Are We Facing the Next, Very Rapid Stage of Evolution, via AI?

Prof. Mark Alan Walker: “Person-engineering technologies will make it possible to accomplish in a matter of years what evolution would take thousands of millennia to achieve.”

These are certainly heady times in the biotech world. With the new mRNA vaccine being created in just a few days in January 2020, someone can mass produce DNA in their garage for the price of a hamburger, and Alpha Fold 2 can predict proteins from DNA with accuracy, rivalling wet lab results, it seems we are on the cusp of something extraordinary. Most viral infections will cease if all we need to do to roll out a new vaccine is sequence the virus genome and mass produce the portion that binds to human cells. On the darker side, it will also likely mean a greater threat of biowarfare. Creating a new virus may just be a matter of downloading…

asian-woman-is-wearing-facial-mask-during-virus-epidemic-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Asian woman is wearing facial mask during virus epidemic

Was the WHO Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin Thwarted by China?

The World Health Organization team was not really allowed to conduct a proper investigation in China

On January 14, 2021, an international team from the World Health Organization (WHO) landed in Wuhan in Hubei province in China to investigate the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. From the outset, the investigation was plagued with three issues: 1) It ‘s been a year since the outbreak in Wuhan, which makes an investigation into the origins of the outbreak difficult. 2) WHO has catered to the Chinese government since the beginning of the pandemic, and 3) the scientists involved in the investigation had to be approved by Beijing. Two of them had conflicts of interest. When the WHO team arrived, they faced additional barriers to a thorough investigation. They were quarantined for two weeks so they…

Machine learning , artificial intelligence , ai, deep learning blockchain neural network concept. Brain made with shining wireframe above multiple blockchain cpu on circuit board 3d render.

Why Oxford’s John Lennox Wrote a Book on AI Promises and Threats

His book 2084 leans on George Orwell’s 1984 but takes its inspiration from C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength

Recently, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed Oxford mathematician John Lennox on his latest book 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). He focused on why Lennox chose that theme and how far we have caught up with George Orwell’s 1984. Here are some excerpts from the combined interviews in “John Lennox on Artificial Intelligence and Humanity”: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-123-John-Lennox.mp3 A partial transcript follows, along with highlights, Show Notes, and Resources: Robert J. Marks (starting at roughly 1:40 min): Many of Orwell’s predictions about communism were proven. So what will be the effects of AI a century later in the year 2084? Replacing George Orwell is Dr. John Lennox who has written 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future…